Category Archives: Pet Care

Does Your Pet Need Prescription Food?

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Dr. Mark Pet Vet Hospitals Houston TexasPets so often beg for food from your plate that it seems as though they’ll eat anything. While there are a few picky eaters, many dogs and cats would gladly eat anything you offered them, even if it’s not good for them. Unfortunately, that is not good for them. In fact, sometimes the things that should be good for them cause bad reactions. That is why prescription pet food exists; for those pets with sensitive digestion.

When your pet cannot stomach anything, it may be time for prescription food.

When pets react badly to over-the-counter food, there may be a number of symptoms. Food allergies or sensitives appear in pets much like they do in people. Your pets may experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chronic Infections
  • Hair Loss
  • Itching
  • And More

Because the symptoms for food sensitivity resemble other issues, it may take some investigating to discover the cause. First, you should consult your vet. He or she may want to see your pet and make certain there is another cause for the problems. Your vet may want to immediately place your pet on a prescription diet. However, you may also be able to determine what is causing the problem through elimination. With your vet’s help, you can create a clean diet with all natural, homemade ingredients—boiled, unsalted chicken, etc.—to see if that corrects the problem. Your vet may also recommend an over-the-counter product to test before switching immediately to the prescription food.

If you do need prescription food, you will have to acquire it at your vet’s office, unless your local pet store carries it. If you get it at the pet store, you will need to show your prescription at checkout. If your pet seems to be showing signs of food intolerance or allergies, bring him to us at Pet Vet Hospitals.

Know the Signs: Heartworms

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Houston Vet with DogHeartworms are some of the great concerns for pet owners, particularly for dogs. They’re quiet killers; you may not know that your dog has them until the infection is widespread and difficult to treat. The best way to deal with heartworms is to get ahead of them; have your dog checked regularly and use medical prevention.

Yet, since the risk is always present, even if it’s low, it helps to know the signs.

Coughing and Difficulty Breathing: Heartworms don’t just attack the heart; they make their way into the lungs. They multiply there and in the veins. Any physical activity may cause coughing, or even fainting.

Weight Loss: Eating can become difficult and appetite may decrease. Thus, your pet may lose weight.

Lethargy: Your dog may seem tired more often. He may move slow and be less interested in the activities that he normally loves. Even small things suddenly become too much.

Because many of the symptoms associated with heartworms can resemble other common problems, diagnosing from home can be difficult. It is essential to see the vet if any of them appear. Other symptoms may include seizures, high blood pressure, nosebleeds, pneumonia, and more.

To diagnose, your vet will have to take blood samples to check for the antigens. Other blood tests may be necessary, as well as x-rays to view any swelling of the heart and lungs. Strange heart rhythms may be a sign, too. Your vet may want to perform multiple tests to be certain and to determine just how far the problem has progressed.

Treatment of heartworms can take a long time. Without it, they can kill. If your pet does not have protection, talk to your vet today. Come see us at Pet Vet Hospitals. Get your dog, or other pet tested, and put them on preventative medication now.

Summer Pet Safety Tips

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bulldog lying down pantingSummer is in full swing, and like any time of the year, it has its fun elements and risks. As you enjoy your summer with your family and pets, don’t forget to implement some safety precautions to extend the fun. Your pets need your help staying safe.

Never leave a pet in the car.

Social media has made sure we know how terrible it is to leave a pet in a hot car. Even with the windows rolled down, the heat can reach fatal heights. Your pet could suffer heat exhaustion, or suffocate if the windows are rolled up, or merely cracked. Never, ever leave your pet in a hot car. If you cannot take him in with you, leave him at home where it’s cool while you run your errand.

Keep extra water out.

Water evaporates more quickly when the heat is up. Even if your pet is not outdoors, things can get a bit warmer inside, particularly if you’re trying not to overrun your air conditioner. Put some extra water out during the summer. Adding some ice to it, too, is helpful; it not only cools the water, but helps delay evaporation.

Keep pets away from outdoor cooking areas.

Fun in the sun is great for everyone, but if you’re cooking outside with people, your dog may make it a little difficult. Keep your pet away from the fire and utensils. You can do so by making sure he has plenty to occupy him. If there’s no one to play with him, make sure he has toys. Give him his own treats so that he’ll be a little less tempted to go after your food. If you must, put him away in another part of the yard, or in the house.

Add extra mosquito protection.

Mosquitoes are hard to control. Even when you make sure your pet is up to date on heartworm prevention, the mosquitoes can still bite. Add some extra defense for your pets. Try some pet-friendly mosquito spray, or place some pet-safe mosquito deterrent near your pet’s chosen areas.

Have safe fun this summer. If you need any advice, your help with your pet’s health, come see us at Pet Vet Hospitals.

Summer Heat Stress on Your Pets

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dog-237187_1280Summer is well on its way. Things are heating up, including your pets. We know how to handle the heat for ourselves, but our pets sometimes need our help. We provide for them—food, water, shelter, and comfort—and so they depend on us to keep them from being overcome by dangers like heat. As summer approaches, remember to take some extra precautions.

Have water everywhere—or, at least readily available.

Water evaporates faster when it’s hot. That means that your pet’s water bowl might need to be refilled more often. It’s a good idea to add another water bowl or two for your pet during summer to prevent dehydration, or even a little extra thirst. You can also put ice in the water. This will help keep things cool, and when the ice melts, it will replace evaporating water and keep the bowl full just a little longer. If your pet likes ice, give him or her a piece every now and then. It’s a great way to keep them occupied, cool, and hydrated. If you go out, take cool water with you, or make sure you know where water is available.

Turn on the air.

Let your pets enjoy the benefits of cooling systems you use. In severe heat, bring your pets inside where it’s cool. If your dog is outdoors, try adding an outdoor fan. Keep bedding and other things in comfortable, shaded areas; shade decreases summer temperatures significantly.

Know the signs of dehydration and heat stress.

If you’re not paying attention, dehydration and heat-related illness can seem to hit suddenly. Those signs may include:

  • Panting
  • Dizziness
  • Drooling
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Lack of Urine
  • And More

Knowing the signs can help you stop heat stress or stroke before it starts. Prepare, prevent, and treat. If you need help, come to us at Pet Vet Hospitals. We’re happy to help you and your pet get through the summer and the rest of the year, as well.

Be Ready with Your Pets This Hurricane Season

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man saves his dog from a floodWith the arrival of Tropical Storm Cindy comes a reminder of the dangers that a yearly hurricane season brings. Though this season began on June 1st, it is never too soon to begin planning for this time each year, particularly if you live near the coast.

Things can occur suddenly. As you prepare yourself, your home, and other details, consider your pets. They should be a part of your plans to evacuate, or stay inside and wait out the storm. Make sure you have all travel necessities ready. If your pet needs a crate or carrier, keep it where you have easy access in a hurry. Purchase some extra pet food and other items. You can even plan for how you will pack your car so that you can do it fast.

Make sure that all vaccinations are up-to-date, as well as any other health-related details. If you have to board your pet, or you have to stay in a hotel, you will probably need evidence of your pet’s vaccines. Plus, terrible storms can cause all sorts of unexpected circumstances, like sudden separation. If you lose your pet, you want to be able to find him or her again easily. So, make sure that your pets are microchipped. Keep ID tags on your pet, or within easy reach, too.

At Pet Vet Hospitals, we cannot stress the importance of taking these precautions enough. Because of this, we are offering a discount of $5 off our microchipping procedure. All you need to do is make an appointment and mention this blog when you do so.  Pet Vet Hospitals also offers certificates as evidence of your pet’s vaccinations; these should be kept on hand with other vital information in case you need them.

Stay safe this hurricane season.

Potential Canine Flu Outbreak Means It’s Time for Vaccinations

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Vet using technologyAt Pet Vet Animal Hospitals, we know you trust us to protect your pets and we take that responsibility very seriously. As such, we feel it necessary to make you, the local dog community and dog lovers, aware of a potential life threatening, yet preventable, virus threatening your pet in our area.

During the past few years there have been outbreaks of a severe new flu virus in dogs called Canine Influenza Virus (CIV). To date, the outbreaks have primarily been in Chicago and the South East United States, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Louisiana, with North Carolina recording two deaths.  This virus is migrating west–toward us.

The Houston area has had two confirmed cases of CIV in the past month.  While this does not constitute an epidemic, it is serious enough that our doctors want to address the issue before it becomes one.

This virus is especially dangerous because a sick dog can be contagious for up to four days before showing symptoms. Twenty percent of infected dogs show no symptoms at all, but can still spread the virus to others for up to a month. Simply avoiding other dogs that appear sick does not offer any protection from this virus.

Symptoms of CIV can be high fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal and ocular discharge, lethargy, and loss of appetite. There are two strains of the disease: H3N8 and H3N2. Depending on the strain a dog contracts, it may need to be treated and isolated up to four weeks. The mortality rate is below 10%.

Prevention is the best way to avoid an epidemic in our community.  There is now a vaccination that is available to protect dogs from both the H3N8 and the H3N2 strains of CIV. An initial vaccine is followed in three weeks by a second booster. Both are required for proper immunity. Pet Vet Animal Hospitals and the manufacturer of the vaccine are confident of its efficacy.  Should a dog contract the virus after proper vaccination, the manufacture will cover treatment at no charge to our clients.

Ideally, all dogs should be vaccinated against CIV, however, some dogs are at a higher risk.  Pet Vet feels that it is imperative these “High Risk Dogs” be properly protected by the vaccine.

Your dog is at High Risk if they go to:

  • Day Care
  • Boarding
  • Grooming
  • Dog Parks
  • Dog Shows
  • Dog Friendly Shops and Hotels
  • Anywhere large numbers of other dogs gather.

Just as in humans’ cases, older dogs and dogs with chronic diseases should also be vaccinated since they cannot fight off the effects of the disease. Many boarding facilities now require vaccination against CIV to be admitted.  This is especially important if your family is considering boarding your dog while on a summer vacation. Keep in mind that you have to wait three weeks from the first vaccination until you receive the booster vaccine for full protection.  Plan ahead.

Bottom line, no one can predict if Houston will have an outbreak or an epidemic.  Thankfully, we have not so far, but we cannot predict if or when our luck might run out. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our pets and the pet-loving community we share. The best way to do this is to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus simply by vaccinating your dog as soon as possible.  If you have any questions regarding CIV, vaccination protocol, or you would like to make an appointment, please call us today at (281) 879-PETS.  Pet Vet Hospitals is here to protect and care for your pets!

Update – 7-28-17

New Canine Influenza Cases Identified in Southeast Harris County

An outbreak of canine influenza has been reported in Webster, Texas, located southeast of Houston. Five cases have been confirmed so far, with an additional five suspected cases awaiting laboratory confirmation.  Another 60 dogs that were exposed to the confirmed cases have presented with clinical signs of canine influenza.

TVMA is gathering additional information about the outbreak and will provide updates as that information becomes available. To obtain the latest information on confirmed cases of canine influenza, please visit Cornell University’s Canine Influenza Virus Surveillance Network’s website at: https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/news/civchicago.cfm

For your clients interested in obtaining information regarding canine influenza, please visit:  https://www.texvetpets.org/article/how-to-protect-your-dog-from-canine-influenza/

Fostering a Pet

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dogs people connection adoptionIf you’re an animal lover with a strong need to care for pets, you may have considered fostering them. Becoming a foster parent to a pet is a wonderful and challenging undertaking. Pet fostering exists because there are simply more pets than there are homes and shelters are overflowing. Foster parents give pets a temporary home, with all the comforts and care, until a forever home can be found.

Though the home is meant to be temporary, it’s important to understand a few things before fostering.

Fostering a pet is a real commitment. Because there is always a shortage of permanent homes for pets, you never know how long you may end up having the pet in your foster home. You have to be ready for anything, including a pet that is not adopted. In a few cases, you can get financial help with care if you foster as part of a shelter, group, or system. Most of the time, however, you are required to handle those details for whatever length of time the pet is with you.

You need to be emotionally ready to foster a pet. Some people are perfectly happy with the system; they love the animals while they have them in care, and are equally happy to see them placed with a loving family. In other cases, fosters end up adopting one or more animals because they become attached, which is not necessarily a bad thing. They may even continue fostering other animals after adopting. For others, however, they quickly realize that fostering is not for them. Letting go of the animals that come into the home is simply too difficult for them.

Whatever your reasons for opening your home to foster animals, it’s a worthy consideration. You may discover that it’s your calling, or that you simply need a pet in your life. Either way, you’re helping creatures that need you. Whether you’re a fostering a pet, or you own one, bring your furry friend to Pet Vet Hospitals for all the healthcare you’ll need.

A Pet’s Never-Ending Ear Infection

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Do you have a pet that is prone to ear infections (like a basset hound or cocker spaniel)? Ear infections are some of the most common ailments that veterinarians see. Chronic ear infections (chronic otitis) are also common, and many a pet owner has spent years battling them for the sake of his or her friend. Sometimes, it just seems as though it is just your pet’s never-ending ear infection.

What can you do? The first thing is obvious: see your vet. Your vet understands ear infections and will find out what type of infection your pet is experiencing. Sometimes, you may be surprised, and the infection can be cleared up with a thorough round or two of treatment.

Other times, it’s not quite so simple. Many pet owners, particularly dog owners, have complained that rounds of antibiotics in combination with other treatments simply haven’t eliminated the problem. Some say their pet’s problem always returns in a matter of weeks, or even days.

So, what’s to be done?

Start by not giving up on your vet. Your vet understands your frustration. Together, you can discuss alternate treatments, or find out if there is a surgical option. If not, your vet will help you develop a long-term treatment plan. This methodical plan may include regular ear flushing to prevent buildup, drops that are safe to use in the long-term, and regular vet visits to make sure that the never-ending problem isn’t causing serious damage. Your vet can prescribe special flushes and medications that you cannot get over the counter; these will likely work far better than what you get at your local pet store.

It’s important to take this route because, though chronic infections can be managed, even when they start to seem “normal,” that doesn’t mean they won’t hurt your pet’s hearing and health in the long-term. Don’t try to tackle your pet’s never-ending ear infection on your own. Talk to a vet. Come see us at Pet Vet Hospitals.

On the Road with Your Pet

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Whether you travel on vacation, you move to a new home, or get on the road for any other reason, you may find yourself taking your pet on the road. It’s less common to take cats on vacation because they don’t often travel well, but many people take their dogs wherever they go. No matter what pet you take, traveling with a pet can be both fun and trying.

Keeping Calm

An important part of traveling with a pet is keeping it cadog-237187_1280lm. Some pets get situated easily and can be distracted with treats and toys. Others need some help. It may require some hands-on soothing. Or, some natural soothers found at your local pet store may help. You can certainly talk to your vet about sedation if you feel it necessary. However, never try to sedate your pet without talking to your vet.

Safety

Keeping your pet safe in the car is also paramount. Restrain your dog with appropriate accouterments. There are devices made specifically for this that you can purchase. Keep your dog’s head out of the window at all times. For cats, it’s best to keep them confined to their carriers. Make sure they have enough room to move, turn, and be comfortable.

Taking Breaks

Your pets need breaks from the car. They need to stretch their legs, get some air, and relieve themselves, just like you. So, plan to take a few extra breaks on your way. Find a good rest stop with some open space. Keep your pet on a leash when you take him or her out. Show your cat the litter box and give him or her a chance to use it. Offer your pets water, too; travel can sometimes bring on dehydration, particularly if your pet gets motion sickness.

If you need more advice for going on the road with your pet, come see us at Pet Vet Hospitals.

Pet Boarding

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dogs people connection adoptionAs much as we would like it, sometimes it’s just not feasible to take our pets with us. They may not travel well, they may not be welcome at the destination, etc. So, finding suitable pet boarding is something that every pet owner should do in order to be prepared for those times when pets cannot go on the trip.

When it comes to cats, it is usually best not to take them with you on a trip unless you’re forced to because you’re moving, or some other necessary reason. In fact, it’s also better not to board a cat; if you can leave your cat at home and have someone come to visit every day, that is best. Cats often do not react well to being removed from their comfortable, familiar environment for a lengthy period of time.

Dogs are better travelers. Many people take dogs on trips, even long ones. However, when it’s simply not possible, a good boarding system is a must. Your dog should receive the best care—exercise and playtime, regular potty breaks, a comfortable, clean space, food, water, etc. The same can be said for cat boarding. If you must board your cat, you want to make sure he or she is getting the very best attention.

Veterinary clinics often offer more than medical services. Sometimes, they also offer pet grooming, daycare, and boarding. So, if you have a vet whom you trust, start there. Ask about potential boarding services. If your vet does not offer them, then the next best thing to do would be to ask your vet’s opinion on other options. She or he probably knows of good boarding in your area.

It’s also great to ask other pet owners whom you know and trust. Online searches and reviews are an essential part of searching for businesses, now. Ultimately, you’re looking for a place that will not only board your pet, but that is trustworthy and will give more than basic care for your animal. It’s hard to leave a pet behind, sometimes. You want it to get the same care you give and it can be worrisome, wondering if they’re okay.

When you need vet care, call us at Pet Vet Hospitals. We can provide and recommend the best.